The decision to homeschool my children did not come naturally for me. The truth be told, I’m a Mom who likes the spontaneity of summer with my children, but equally enjoys the first day of school, when I return them to their educators and structure. Just the word “homeschool” alone, caused a gasp to escape my lips, often followed up by “I could never do that.” I’ve learned to be careful, what I say I could never do.
For today, at forty years young, I sit in the lobby, waiting for my nine year old to finish a placement test, for a private homeschool program. My autumn beholds my children and I waving goodbye to their friends as they head off to school. I must admit, I will shed a tear or two, I suspect this is normal for someone who has given away her coffee’s, workouts, and girlfriend lunches, in lieu of textbooks, tests, and the smell of glue.
The idea of homeschooling came after having dinner with an enthusiastic homeschooling mother of two. She recommended a book called, So You’re Thinking About Homeschooling, by Lisa Whelchel. I bought the book, even though at the time, I was not thinking of homeschooling…no how…no way. My friend warned if God wanted me to homeschool, He would change my heart.
Once I started reading, I couldn’t put the book down, it was full of examples of families who were homeschooling, and descriptions of their day to day lives. This started a ravenous reading trend, of everything I could get my hands on, from the Well Trained Mind to Teaching the Trivium. I honed in on the Classical curriculum, if I ever chose to homeschool. All the while, reminding myself I had a child who’s attention could be snapped away by a piece of floating dust.
I turned the subject over to prayer, and as God often does in my case, began tugging and pushing on my heart, until I knew without a doubt it was what He wanted. Although, my husband, Jay was harder to convince.
I decided if God could change my heart, He could change his as well. I prayed for Jay to “see the light.” Sometimes, I find the light is better seen, when it’s shining through a dark cloud. Our first storm rolled in, when my son met with a bullying situation, he was inept at handling. The bully shoved him down on the playground, called him names, and teased him for his height. Teachers and administration struggled with the same student for years, yet never handled the problem, and now that problem was intently focused on my son. The situation tore away at my son’s confidence, and he, in turn, took it out on his brothers at home. Until one day, he broke down in my arms pleading for me to help him. I contacted his teacher, but she seemed as powerless as I felt. I prayed for him each morning, as I sent him off to school, and God as faithful as He is, moved the student out of our school zone, allowing me to repair the broken spirit that remained.
The next year, presented a problem with academics, he was lost in the shuffle of fifth grade accelerated courses. Homework wasn’t turned in and papers were lost, each teacher required things done their way, leaving my son splitting apart at the seams. His confidence lagged, and he began a habit of manipulating the truth. I stepped in to do the mending and disciplining, while my husband took notice.
Meanwhile, the opportunities to discuss Classical homeschooling with my beloved presented itself. Yet, Jay still resisted, explaining I wouldn’t have any free time to pursue my writing and art. While doubts crept in, I continued to pray.
God’s answer came, when my neighbor told me of a private Christian school program, where students attended twice a week for instruction, and spent three days at home completing assigned work. One night on their website, I found this school used the Classical curriculum. The light illuminating from my computer screen shined through the clouds of doubt, replacing them with the assurance of God’s sovereignty and wisdom, along with the surety of answered prayers.
I presented the plan to Jay, who liked the idea of my two days off. Soon after, the last cloud rolled in, we heard our public middle school removed the doors off the girls restroom, to nix the extra curricular activities taking place there. While I recovered from the shock of morality existing in our youth, my husband pushed me to attend the prospective parent meeting, for the homeschool program.
I returned from the meeting, with a notebook full of statistics and answered questions. The program cost half the tuition of private, and the boys could travel, and log in on their laptops, to receive instruction. The principal further explained, we as parents are already homeschooling. She added, “Would you rather do it in the morning, or at night?” Within the month, the boys were registered.
Now, with placement testing complete, and forms turned in, I wait for the challenge ahead. Through this experience, I know God took my hand and pulled me along, as I imagine, He will pull me through the trenches of homeschooling.
This fall, after the last school bus exits our neighborhood, and I watch my girlfriends leave for Starbucks, I will wipe the tear off my cheek, roll up my sleeves, and get to work….get to work teaching my boys. My hope is through my sacrifice, they will learn much more than academics.